|One of my previous Buff Orpingtons, named Ash.|
Yesterday I was talking with someone I know who is considering getting a couple of chickens. In talking about it, I was surprised with the number of misconceptions and misinformation that is out there about raising chickens. With that in mind, here are a few basic tidbits of wisdom for the novice chicken parent:
- Hens do not need a rooster in order to lay eggs.
- Chickens do not have to be brought inside for the winter.
- Chickens have to a have a coop... you cannot get by with only having a run.
- The coop and run needs to be predator proof. Predators can come under, through, or over the top of a coop and/run (think everything from raccoons to hawks).
- You will need to buy feed for chickens that are kept in a coop and run. They can only forage and feed themselves if they free range (wander around in a very big yard) all day.
- Different breeds of chickens have different temperaments, laying abilities, etc.
- If you keep chickens in a run, you will not have grass there. The chickens will scratch it into a tiny dirt lot.
- Chickens poop.... a lot.
- Chickens can make wonderful pets.
- Free range chickens will keep the bugs in your yard at a minimum, but are open to being snatched by predators.
- Chickens can fly over small fences (about five feet or less - we learned this the hard way when one of our chickens flew into the dog pen).
- Chickens will put themselves to bed at night... heading to the roost in their coop.
- Hens are not silent. Besides low clucking they give loud cackles when they lay an egg.
- You can't just throw baby chicks into a coop. They have to be in a brooder, have a heat lamp, have special chick feed, etc.
- Roosters don't just crow at dawn... they can crow all day long... and they can be loud.
There is probably a lot more I could say, but I hope this gives you a start. Keeping chickens is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. They are fascinating and lovable, and it is easy to become addicted to these beauties!